Following the initial lockdown announcements by the Prime Minister in March 2020, this saw non-essential works stop. After subsequent announcements by the Prime Minister in May 2020 about the moving to a new phase of the UK’s Covid-19 recovery, we are now following a phased approach to deliver customer-driven works. Aspects of our capital investment programme will also resume incrementally over the coming weeks.
As always, our priority remains the safety of our employees and the public while keeping the lights on for our customers. Despite the impact of the pandemic, operations in our Control Centre, Contact Centres and field teams continue while following to the latest Government advice.
The company and trade unions have worked in collaboration to create plans to ensure that all employees and workers can be confident that WPD will provide a safe working environment during this new period.
We anticipate a gradual increase in enquiries for customer-driven work from developers, local authorities, and home and smaller business owners. The activities that these requests generate will be the first area where we commence physical on-site activities to meet those requests.
Our staff, including those planning, supervising and carrying out field-based activities, will take into consideration social distancing at all stages of the work.
We will continue to prioritise emergency, unplanned power cuts and do everything we can to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Customers are still able to contact us through the normal channels and our Control Room and Customer Contact Centre continues to be operational, while adhering to Government advice.
We are still here 24/7 and there are lots of ways to get in touch with us including our website, Twitter @wpduk, our Power Cut Reporter app or by calling 105.
If the customer can provide a safe site, we will respond to a request for a connection. We will organise dates for the work to be carried out as long as the site is safe to work. However we will not be “business as usual”, and our staff will need to work in a different way to follow the new guideline. This may mean that jobs may take a little longer, but the importance of maintaining the safety of our customers and staff is our first priority.
This will depend on the nature of the planned work. Where the work is essential (necessary to maintain the safety and security of the local electricity supply) it will definitely continue. If this is part of customer-driven works or our capital investment programme it is likely to go ahead, but some schemes may be postponed. We will notify you if the planned work is postponed, otherwise you can assume it will still be going ahead. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us on the details provided on your planned notice or call 0800 096 3080.
When carrying out essential operations, our employees will follow safety protocols to keep themselves and our customers safe. The situations faced by our field teams when undertaking field-based work are many and varied. As well as wearing personal protective equipment, our teams have been provided with guidance on protective measures they should adopt as well as maintaining social distancing wherever possible.
WPD will continue to carry out all works under strict safety protocols.
Specific information and advice will be sent to customers ahead of any planned works. Our staff and customers will be asked to take the following steps before we visit a customer’s property, whether there is a suspicion that someone present has coronavirus or not.
- We will call the customer and agree a date for the work.
- Where our staff need to enter the customer’s property, we will agree how to gain entry and any special instructions the customer may have for our teams so we are prepared ahead of the date of the visit.
On the day of the visit:
- We will contact the customer, either by phone or knocking on your door and stepping back from the doorstep when outside their property.
- At that time, we will check if anything has changed with the agreed plans so that we are able to keep each other safe before we enter the property. For example, a change in the health of anyone living in the property from the time the work was initially discussed, may affect the work we can undertake.
- We will discuss where WPD equipment is located and agree how we can access it while maintaining social distancing
- Staff will follow any guidance agreed with the customer beforehand with regard to accessing our equipment.
- WPD will keep work time in the property to as short a period as possible
During our visit, WPD will:
- Follow social distancing and good hygiene rules.
- Ensure we follow the agreed access routes
- Complete our work safely and minimise the points contact our staff require within your property
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate for the task.
- Wash our hands and any work tools when we leave.
We must ask customers to do the following while we are working:
- Avoid close contact and follow the social distancing rules. Please go into a separate room and stay there while our staff are inside your property. Keep at least two metres apart at all times.
- Ensure access to our work areas are clear
- All other family members follow the same social distancing guidelines
- Open the windows or outside doors in the area that we are working, if possible.
- Avoid smoking or vaping while our team members are in your property
We have produced a guidance leaflet for customers for times when an engineer is visiting your property. The leaflet can be found here: Coronavirus engineer info
If staff are working away from the public, they will use their normal personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task they are carrying out and will follow Government guidelines for social distancing. If staff have to enter a property to carry out essential work or testing and there is someone self-isolating or showing symptoms of COVID-19, they will use additional PPE such as disposable coveralls, gloves, eye protection, a face mask and disposable overshoes, dependent upon the activity and assessment of risk.
WPD is taking steps to support the national effort to help the most vulnerable in our society at this difficult time. Each year, WPD proactively contacts over 1 million of our customers who are known to be vulnerable to the effects of a power cut. As a result, we have very accurate information about these customers, including consent from many to share this data with other key support agencies during emergencies. We will be working with local authorities to share this data where possible to help them identify the most in need.
Our Priority Services team will also continue to proactively call thousands of Priority Services customers each week to check they are ok.
From the outset of the pandemic, we worked with a range of our existing community partners to re-purpose our long-standing community support schemes. Under normal operating conditions, WPD funds a number of charities and community groups to deliver energy saving and tariff switching advice to support customers living in cold homes and struggling to afford their energy. At this time, we’re continuing to fund these partners but have asked them to widen their support beyond energy advice to look at other ways of supporting customers at this time. Such activities include providing befriending support and actions such as delivering shopping and prescriptions to those customers we know are most isolated and vulnerable at the moment.
Finally, to specifically support vulnerable people impacted by Coronavirus in our communities, we established a £500k ‘In This Together Community Matters’ Fund. It has directly funded support to over 400,000 vulnerable people within our communities, working with 300 charities and community groups.
Yes, you can cancel your appointment at any time. Please contact us on 0800 096 3080, via our website or on Twitter @wpduk to cancel an appointment.
Yes you can still apply for disconnections. We will then contact you to discuss the work.
Our teams are essential service providers and key responders as part of the Civil Contingencies Act. We continue to work hard to serve our communities in these challenging times. We monitor staff levels to ensure we can continue to undertake the essential work on our network and respond to customer emergencies. We have mitigation plans in place to address any significant staffing issues should these arise.
We have put in place social distancing and hygiene measures to protect our key workers whether they are working on site or in our offices.
All non-essential visits have been cancelled. Contractors or other visitors will be asked to telephone us to outline the reason for their visit, in advance. They will be briefed on the measures in place, will agree access and egress routes so interaction between visitors and those working there is kept to an absolute minimum.
Visitors must not attend a WPD site if they:
- Have symptoms of coronavirus;
- Are being tested for coronavirus;
- Have been in contact with anyone who has a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath.
Power cut information
For the latest information about power cuts in your area please visit our power cut pages: www.westernpower.co.uk/power-cuts
If you have a power cut, please call us on 105 or via the many channels on our Contact Us pages: www.westernpower.co.uk/contact-us
Priority Services Register and support for vulnerable customers
If you’re an ‘at risk’ person who has received a letter from the NHS advising you to take additional measures to protect yourself from COVID-19, then please consider signing up for the Priority Services Register. This provides free additional services to customers if there is a power cut. You can find out more about the Register at www.westernpower.co.uk/PSR.
Please visit our Contact Us page: www.westernpower.co.uk/contact-us for details of how to get in touch.